LifeisXbox’s The Vale: Shadow of the Crown Review | It’s time to depend on your audio for your gameplay where your every move will be determined by direction and intensity of sound as you play as a blind Princess called Alex after being attacked away from home. In The Vale: Shadow of the Crown, you will find an ally in that of a wounded Shepard who you venture forward with, having the intention to get back to your family and alert them to the threat which is looming. Fight your way through armed forces in a medieval setting, complete side tasks in order to earn copper that can then be used to purchase or upgrade your gear, and progress through different villages along the way. The Vale: Shadow of the Crown has been developed by Falling Squirrel Inc. and published by Creative Bytes Studios to bring an experience like no other that will surely have you astounded by the capability of 3D audio from the very beginning. A game designed to have you immersed in every scenario you come across.
ℹ️ | We played The Vale: Shadow of the Crown for Five Hours on Xbox One S. This game is also available on Xbox Series S/X, Steam, Microsoft Windows, and Epic Games Store.
What we liked!
- Unique and immersive playstyle | To begin with, I have the mention the style of gameplay that has been produced in The Vale: Shadow of the Crown as not only has it created and brought something I’ve never experienced before to the gaming industry but it has also left me astonished and incredibly surprised with how successful the end results have turned out. A blind person could play this game; Yes, I’m deadly serious. It has been produced in such a way that uses 3D audio for everything you do and I would strongly recommend you wear headphones for the true adventure that has been created. I played the majority of the game with my eyes closed to fully understand the intention and wow, I couldn’t believe how incredible everything was. Having to rely on sound cues, changes in volume and the direction of voices made for an incredibly remarkable game.
- Descriptive narration | Throughout your time in The Vale: Shadow of the Crown, there will be multiple instances where the environment, your surroundings, and even colours will be described to you, as with your character being blind and the game aiming for you to feel connected to Alex, vision will not be something you should rely on for anything. There was one part I encountered where Shepard mentioned the colour red which Alex said meant nothing to her as she is unable to see and with this, Shepard explained the vision in a different way, mentioning the warmth of a fire to explain the sun and how the clouds were described as being fluffy in appearance. As blind people are reliant on taste, touch and hearing, it created a solid and thoughtful way for everything to be explained meaning vision was never neccessary for anything.
- Incredible audio | When it comes to a game where visuals have practically no impact on how you tackle your objectives, excellent audio is imperative for success to be achieved in the desired way and I must say, it was incredibly immersive in each instance that I found myself in. The ambience of your surroundings included your footsteps and squelching through mud, speech from nearby people, hearing trees rustling all around, aggressive territory made out by sounds of blades clashing and screams of pain – I almost felt like I was Alex as I experienced everything how she would have. There is music although I found this to be quite absent as it only played at checkpoints and after completing a quest. The sound effects bring the game together to create a realistic understanding of how the world is for those who cannot see.
- Main and side quests | The Vale: Shadow of the Crown comes with a decent share of main and side missions to complete – some are mandatory whereas others are optional. The optional ones, should you choose to accept and complete them, will reward you with extra copper (the currency used in the game) to spend on upgrades for your gear, making content less troublesome along your journey. These range from hunting animals to collecting supplies, with some also adding a timed element of surprise that makes your hearing and sense of direction even more important to rely on. It mixed the objectives of the game up and changed the pace of the main story which I definitely welcomed into the incredible experience.
- Engaging story | Not only has the game been created remarkably well but the story has also been executed phenomenally to work in harmony with the style. New information is always coming to light and the storyline itself progresses with each checkpoint you reach. Your character grows with confidence and you are told things (I don’t wish to spoil anything) that change not only your gameplay but how you view the characters surrounding you and how these affect you along your adventure. In my opinion, things are always kept fresh, making nothing predictable which is exactly how it should be.
- Combat system and controls | As time progresses through the game, you will encounter flashbacks where you will be taught different elements of combat to use against your foes by your uncle. You will start with basic training that teaches you how you will need to melee in different directions and listen for your foes movement and charges to determine where you should be diverting your attention to. Later, you will be taught to block, about different types of attacks, and what other threats you will have to encounter. Learning to effectively counter your opponents is key as this will make any fighting you get involved in far easier to handle. Considering the different controls, it’s been constructed in such a way that you can play without vision that creates additional immersion.
- Upgrades are available | With combat and weapons comes opportunities to change and upgrade equipment when travelling through villages. You will come across merchants who will offer new gear and possibly enhance what you already own in exchange for copper that can be earned by completing side quests as mentioned above. These can range from the type of weapon you use, critical chance, and recovery speed for a few examples. This has made it easier to adapt your upgrades based on what you may like or feel you’re struggling with the most when it comes to hostile encounters. It managed to add some depth to what is already a phenomenal piece of work.
- Firefly-like visuals | The only visuals The Vale: Shadow of the Crown has is an image on the main menu and small floating specs of light floating around the screen when playing the game itself. Although nice to look at, perhaps this is unnecessary due to the nature of the game being based around audio in every sense of the word. They do give you a sense of guidance as should you approach the edge of the of the area, Alex will make a little bumb noise, followed by a mumble, indicating you’re heading out of bounds/in the wrong direction. Don’t get me wring – they’re pretty but don’t really contribute to anything, especially if you play the game ‘blind’ as it should be really.
- Enlightening death | Whenever you die, which happened to me a fair few times, when loading back into the last checkpoint you are often given a line of ‘encouragement’ that gives you a helping hand as to whether you need to be more careful, quieter, quicker etc. that I found nice to have. Admittedly, it isn’t always the most helpful and in some cases, I did find myself saying “Really? That’s your advice?” as it was rather obvious but at the end of the day, the game is only trying to be of assistance when you use a little helpful hint to aid you on your journey.
What we disliked
- I couldn’t think of anything negative to mention or touch upon for The Vale: Shadow of the Crown.
How long to beat the story | Approximately 6-8 Hours
How long to achieve 1000G | Approximately 8-10 Hours
Similar with | I honestly don’t believe there is anything similar unless you include medieval-based RPG titles but the audio is a truly unique feature
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Hello, I’m Victoria. I’m from the UK and have been playing video games for as long as I can remember; back on DreamCast. I’ve pretty much fallen for Xbox since I was around eight years old and remember BioShock being my first game on the Xbox360. Although I find it thoroughly enjoyable to not only experience gameplay, I also find comfort in getting lost and engrossed in the online worlds that sometimes differ greatly from what we know. Another side of my Xbox passion would be achievement hunting and gamerscore. I thrive when I hear the little sound of one popping up on the screen and I’m always finding ways to work on my backlog when possible. Horror is my favourite genre so if you have any recommendations, don’t be afraid to send them my way!